Waugh replied, “That was the only thing in the book which was based in a very real experience. Everything else was fictional, but that scene was accurate. I saw such a thing happen.”
So it is. The last rites are one of the times when we see the power of the sacraments and I have never seen the prayers and anointing not bring peace when they have been asks for. The person really does go forth on their journey in peace. They are given their passport and they may go in peace.
I experienced it again twice in the last three days.
After it was over I took off my stole, whispered an extra re-assurance into the ear of the dying soul….”I’ve just anointed you and blessed you. You are forgiven. Go in peace.”
Then I was gone about the business of another busy day. In fact, it was not only a busy day, but a day with a certain amount of stress–yet more people being petty, mean, greedy, suspicious, negative and sour. Yet more people indulging in gossip and believing gossip. Another day in which I did not pray enough and did not rely on God, but trusted only in my own strength. Another day in which I had too much to do and too little time to do it.
The deathbed visits were almost routine in the midst of the rest of a hectic life.
But I knew that in the midst of that busy day with all the temporal concerns these visits were the location of eternity in my life and a window to the everlasting opening for me and for others even if only for a moment.
So I went on my way and then, in each case, just about an hour after my departure the family called to say that after the anointing the child of God had gone over Jordan.
The distress and death agony had passed and they died in peace at the last.
When I recounted the story to Holy Deacon he said, “That is a priest’s work. Forget about the other stresses of the day. That was only the devil. He was mad at you for saving two souls and handing them over to the Master.”
I cannot disagree with Holy Deacon.